The Mediterranean Diet

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Don’t restrict entire food groups. Be balanced.

The Mediterranean approach to eating puts emphasis on small portions and freshness, as well as the pleasure of eating. This is one of my key food guidelines: have fun — eat with enjoyment and gratitude in order to feel nourished.

Adopt a Mediterranean eating style without moving to the French or Spanish Riviera;

  1. Have generous amounts of fresh vegetables daily.
  2. Eat healthier fats such as olives, olive oil, nuts, and avocado.
  3. Include legumes such as chickpeas (whole or as hummus), lentils, and borlotti beans on a regular basis.
  4. Include more fish and eat less red meat.
  5. Enjoy fresh foods prepared at home.
  6. If you choose to drink, choose red wine (just one glass, two at most).
  7. Get moving — be more active.
  8. Take time to relax and de-stress, as well as enjoying meals with others.

A typical Mediterranean-diet day would look like this:

  • Breakfast: a bowl of fresh fruit topped with Greek yoghurt and a handful of almonds.
  • Lunch: a selection of crudités with dips such as hummus, guacamole and tzatziki served with cucumber chickpea salad (see below).
  • Snacks: a small handful of nuts, fruit, yoghurt, cheese or olives.
  • Dinner: grilled fish and roasted veggies, a large green salad and an optional glass of red wine.

Three easy Mediterranean light meal ideas

Each recipe serves one and provides about 1,200kJ (285kCal) of energy.

Cucumber Chickpea Salad

In a small non-stick saucepan, toss 1⁄3–1⁄2 tin (130g) chickpeas, drained; with 1⁄4 tsp cumin; 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper; and 1 tsp oil. Fry for a few minutes until the chickpeas start to brown. Set aside to cool. Mix 1 cup cucumber, peeled, sliced, and quartered with the chickpeas. Top with a matchbox-sized (40g) feta cheese, crumbled.

Caprese Skewers

Makes two skewers

Preheat the oven grill to its highest setting. Place 1 slice of seed- loaf bread, trimmed into 6 cubes, on a wire rack and drizzle or brush with olive oil. Place under the hot grill for 1–2 minutes until the bread cubes are crispy and golden. Make sure to check it often, as the bread can burn quickly.

To assemble the skewers, alternately thread 3 bread squares, 4 cherry tomatoes, 3 Mozzarella cheese blocks and 4 basil leaves per skewer.

Season to taste.

Lemon Salmon with Lentils

Place 120–150g fresh salmon fillet in an ovenproof dish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fish. Place under hot grill for 8–12

minutes until the fish is cooked. You will know the fish is cooked when the flesh flakes easily with a fork.

In the meantime, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saucepan and add 1⁄2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped. When the onion is soft, add the zest from 1⁄2 fresh lemon; 1 Tbsp capers, drained; and 1⁄3 tin (130g) lentils, drained; and heat until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Place the lentil mix onto a warmed plate and top with the cooked salmon fillet. Serve with a green side salad for a balanced meal.


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